Shell beans are not only winter fare. Fresh shell beans are terrific when you can grow or buy them but reconstituted dried beans are good all year-round. I buy them in bulk from a place with a hearty turnover and local sources. The ones that you get in the supermarket in little plastic bags typically have been around for quite a while, even years. The beans continue to dry out as they age, and not only take longer to reconstitute but also run the risk of never tenderizing when cooked. The freshest beans do not need a preliminary soaking to become tender. When I cook dried beans, depending on the intended use, I cook them in plenty of well salted water and never let the water get nay hotter than the most gentle simmer. This allows the beans to cook evenly and remain tender.
In the summer, I like to combine shell beans with fresh green beans, which are currently plentiful, and dress them in olive oil and chopped garlic that’s been tempered with salt. Cook the garlic slightly if the raw garlic is too pungent. We’re currently harvesting garlic from our garden, so this is a great way to use any heads that have been split and are not candidates for long-term storage.
Categories: Beans and legumes